On June 3, members of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization for key women educators, woke up before dawn to complete an annual breast cancer awareness walk. The women had come from all over Tennessee, and some of them came with the expectation of meeting Liz Bradley, former Xi State president of DKG. “Is that her?” one woman asked. “I’ve heard about her but never met her.”
In short order, the walk began, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony that opened the Village Trail, a new trail that makes a direct path from Tennessee Avenue and the School of Theology to downtown Sewanee, winding through a wooded ravine paralleling University Avenue, and connecting the Tennessee Avenue campus with the Village.
“My remarks will be brief,” Bradley said. “This event brings three things together, I love: Delta Kappa Gamma, the University of the South, and the breast cancer awareness walk.” With that, the ribbon was cut and the walk began.
The idea for the Village Trail came from a conversation between Jeff Whorley, C’83—Liz Bradley’s son—and Robert Black, C’89, director of major gifts for the University. Whorley wanted to make a gift to the University that would honor his mother and meet a University need. One obstacle to making campus more pedestrian-friendly was the long way around people had to take to walk from the Tennessee Avenue dorms and School of Theology to the Village. The new trail connects the high ground of Tennessee Avenue to the highway at the Village, with a smooth, crushed limestone path that winds down through the woods.
From the Village end, just down the street from Shenanigans and the Greenspace Art Collective, the trail heads uphill, winding through cypress knees following the creek past the Sewanee Elementary School nature trails before a final climb out of the ravine at the edge of the Hamilton Hall parking lot.
“This is just a great way to tie the Tennessee Avenue residents in Quintard and Gorgas and at the School of Theology to the Village,” says Black. "It is a great alternative to either walking to University Avenue or battling cars and narrow shoulders on Kentucky Avenue. The new trail splits those two routes and gives the pedestrian a quiet walk in the woods."
“We are really grateful for Jeff’s gift and for the family’s long association with Sewanee,” Black told members of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society, “and there is more to come.” The next phase of the project is to build a bridge through the cypress bog into the village, giving walkers access to Sewanee businesses without having to walk along the highway.
There is also the possibility of connecting the Village Trail to the Mountain Goat Trail on the other side of the highway. The Mountain Goat is a rails-to-trails project that connects Sewanee and Monteagle and will eventually connect Cowan to Tracy City and points beyond.
“I am really happy to be able to address a need that enriches the Sewanee experience,” Whorley reflected later. “My family has a strong connection with Sewanee, and it is meaningful to me to honor that connection.”